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Motiv Space Systems announced that it was awarded a two-year, $5 million contract to begin developing the Distributed Extreme Environments Drive System (DEEDS). The contact was awarded under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Sequential Phase II Program.
DEEDS is designed to survive in extreme environments, like the surface of the Moon or Mars, where temperatures can reach -180º C. Unlike other actuation systems, DEEDS doesn’t require any external heaters to survive in extremely cold temperatures. This means the system puts less of a power and weight burden on a lander or rover.
The modular and scalable system has a number of potential applications, including in-situ resource utilization systems, robotics, payload offloading and mobility systems. NASA is already using some of the system’s technology in its COLDArm project.
“DEEDS specifically addresses the challenges of NASA’s ‘Survive and Operate Through the Lunar Night’ objectives by producing a modular, scalable actuation system that will fundamentally enable sustained operations on the Moon or Mars for long-term extreme environment operations,” Tom McCarthy, vice president for business development at Motiv, said. “This technology will become a critical asset for developers of landers, rovers, and tool developers looking to aid future astronaut planetary surface explorers.”
Motiv hopes that NASA will eventually use DEEDS in its Artemis program, which involves a long-term human presence on the Moon. DEEDS’ unique capabilities and functions could be used to drive large lunar vehicle mobility systems that transport astronauts, or in autonomous robots performing specialized tasks, like constructing structures on the lunar surface.
“As lunar exploration evolves, we expect to see the lifetime requirements of landers and mobility systems rapidly grow beyond a single lunar cycle,” McCarthy said. “Creating new technologies that are designed for — as opposed to be protected from — the environmental extremes of the Moon will deliver benefits to a subsequent human exploration program on Mars.”
Motiv is collaborating with two other companies on the project. Amorphology is manufacturing the Bulk Metallic Glass Gears for the actuator, and SEPAC is developing cryogenic braking systems.
Earlier this month, Motiv announced it’s collaborating with Blue Origin on ModuLink, a product that allows users to turn their spacecraft into customized robotic spacecrafts. The software architecture of ModuLink is being developed by Blue Origin and NASA.
Motiv also collaborated with NASA on the Perseverance Rover. The company made the rover’s primary robotic arm. The 7-foot long arm carries some of the rover’s most important science instruments.